Today the world marks the 30th birthday of the web. I could have said ‘celebrates’ instead of ‘marks’. But despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that it’s the most revolutionary advance in communications of our lifetime, the mood seems reflective rather than celebratory. Read full articleComment
Archive — Society
A conversational hierarchy
An attempt to rank ten different types of conversation.
I am always amazed by how much people are willing to divulge on public transport. They list what they’re having for dinner tonight, they explain their aches and pains in detail, or they slag off Jennifer from Accounts. Of course what I forget is that when I’m on the bus with a friend we’re usually having similar conversations, and so engrossed that we never notice those sitting nearby can hear every word.
Do academic disciplines engage society?
An idea for how academia can make itself more relevant and accessible:
[I]t has been my view that universities should present their ‘shop windows’ in a more thematic way, with less of an emphasis on traditional Faculty structures (law, economics, physics, engineering, and so forth), and more on issues of general public and social concern. This will be easier if we do not construct all academic argument around the single subjects in which we were once trained.
On the Tuesday morning after Easter I waved goodbye to my brother and nephew at Norwich station and wandered off to catch a train back to London. Last night I walked over to BestMate’s in Plaistow and we had dinner and watched telly. Inbetween, I met and spoke to absolutely nobody I know. That’s 15 days, 9 hours and 12 minutes of conversational solitude. And I coped fine.
Was there a civilisation on Earth before humans?
This is mind-blowing.
Perhaps, for example, some early mammal rose briefly to civilization building during the Paleocene epoch about 60 million years ago. There are fossils, of course. But the fraction of life that gets fossilized is always minuscule and varies a lot depending on time and habitat. It would be easy, therefore, to miss an industrial civilization that only lasted 100,000 years—which would be 500 times longer than our industrial civilization has made it so far.
Stephen Bush: On the Tube, I saw the father I’d never met – and was happy to find that I had nothing to say to him
An extraordinary piece of writing by Stephen Bush, about bumping into someone who didn’t know he was his father.
I’ve learned to enjoy the upsides of having an absent father. One is that you don’t have flaws like everyone else, merely kinks that the missing parent would have ironed out had he stuck around.
Woman reports rape to police — and is arrested on immigration charges
The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.
Officers took her to the Havens sexual assault centre, which provides care for women who have been sexually assaulted.
But while there, she was suddenly arrested and taken into custody at an east London police station. She was then interrogated over her immigration status.
This country needs to end its obsession with immigration. There comes a point when you need to treat people as humans. I think treating a rape victim as a criminal is way beyond that point.
How childhood gender-stereotyping damages boys
A brilliant thread about why society’s attitute to children and toys causes long-term damage to men.
Aisling Bea: ‘My father’s death has given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness’
One person’s history of Twitter, from beginning to end
Ten years ago, a group of white dudes baked the DNA of the platform without thought to harassment or abuse. They built the platform with the best of intentions. I still believe this. But they were ignorant to their own blind spots. As we all are. This is the value of diverse teams by the way. When you’re building a tool with a global reach (and who isn’t these days) your team needs to look like the world it’s trying to reach. And ten years later, the abuse has proven too much to fix.